- Invented PayPal (and sold it to eBay (EBAY) for $1.5 billion).
- Looked under the hood of the electric car that General Motors (GM) had just killed, and brought it back to life.
- Launched the first ever private space vessel to orbit the Earth.
- Was the inspiration behind the movie version of Iron Man's billionaire inventor Tony Stark.
The project is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it's never been done before. A private party has never docked a spaceship with the ISS. As Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert put it recently: "four entities have launched rockets into space: the U.S., China, the Soviet Union [Russia], and Elon Musk."
Second, because if SpaceX succeeds in this effort, it will begin to make good on the $1.6 billion contract it won from NASA four years ago, to run about a dozen resupply missions to the ISS -- relieving NASA of the obligation of having to pay the Russians to lift supplies up to the station, and ensuring SpaceX's survival in the process.
What's It Mean to You?
To taxpayers, though, the most important thing about Saturday's flight is the potential that a successful SpaceX mission holds for lowering the cost of space flight, and getting us more missions per taxpayer dollar.
That's just one more reason that when Falcon 9 is waiting on the launchpad Saturday, we should all be counting down along with it.
Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith holds no position in any company mentioned. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of General Motors and eBay.